Wireless in Manhattan

By Susannah Patton, CIO |  Networking

Even if I can't get my gifts wire-lessly, I can at least take advantage of New York City's reputation as a mecca for electronics shopping. I enter The Wiz at 17 Union Square West, a well-known New York-area chain, and head for the camera counter. I kneel down to look at the Nikon Coolpix 950, priced at $799. I pull out my Palm and tap on MySimon.com, a comparison shopping application I had downloaded several days before. After several seconds, MySimon.com comes up with a list of outlets (mostly online) that sell the digital camera for less. A burly store manager approaches me (and the photographer accompanying me) and tells us we can't take pictures in the store without approval from corporate headquarters. He looks like he means business. But as we start to leave, he pulls me aside and asks: "How do you like your OmniSky modem? I'm thinking of getting one myself. What do you think? Should I get one?" I evidently look like a wireless pro. I advise him to shop around.

Noon

I try out the Where2Go Public Restrooms Locator application, a guide to the best public toilets in the city. It says Forbes Magazine Galleries has "very nice and clean" restrooms several blocks away with "deco/nautical themes." I don't have time to try these out, however. I'm going to be late for my lunch meeting.

12:30 p.m.

After a brief subway hop, I hurry down Wall Street to meet my friend Caroline, who works for a dotcom. Her company's spacious offices -- complete with mod furniture and lime-colored walls -- don't reflect the tension brought on by recent layoffs. Sitting on a bright blue velour couch, we ponder where to eat while perusing Zagat's restaurant guide on my Palm. We consider an eatery called The 14 Wall Street Restaurant, located on the 31st floor of her building. "Take the elevator up and leave reality below," the Zagat's review begins. Sounds perfect.

From the Plaza Hotel's steps, where stiletto-heeled glitterati prance with cell phones, to Swedish telecom giant Ericsson's research and development "CyberLab NY" in lower Manhattan, the city is beeping and buzzing with gadgetry. Hundreds of Internet entrepreneurs are jockeying to discover applications that could change the ways we do business. Even as the Nasdaq crumbles, hosts of New York financiers are focusing on the wireless Internet. Some of them are eating today at 14 Wall.

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